Noni Thomas López, Ed.D, Founder and Director
In her 24th year of working in independent schools, Noni Thomas López is the Head of School of the Gordon School in East Providence, RI.
Before joining Gordon, completed a four-year tenure at Ethical Culture Fieldston School as the Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning. Prior to that, Noni served as the Head of Middle School at The Nightingale-Bamford School and the Middle School Director at the Calhoun School. From 2010-2013, Noni served as a trustee of the Caedmon School, and she is currently Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Bronx Charter School for the Arts. Noni was a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools’ (NYSAIS) Diversity Committee for six years, working with New York independent school educators to develop workshops, conferences, and resource materials for teachers and administrators who seek assistance in furthering their schools' diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. She has presented on leadership and diversity at the NAIS Annual and People of Color Conferences, the NYSAIS Emerging Leaders Institute and Diversity Practitioners Conference, and the NCAIS Women in Leadership Conference. Noni has consulted at universities as well as public and private schools on curriculum, DEI, and organizational leadership and provides executive coaching to educators and non-profit leaders.
Noni holds a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her M.A. in Private School Leadership at Teachers College where she was awarded a Joseph Klingenstein Fellowship. In 2016, she completed a doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. Noni resides in East Providence with her husband Rodney and his two sons Rodney, Jr. (15) and Roman (14). Her son Novian Graves (27) resides in Noni's home state of North Carolina.
Aléwa Cooper, Core Faculty
An independent school educator for 20 years, Aléwa Cooper joined Greens Farms Academy in Westport, CT on July 1, 2015, as Head of Lower School. Aléwa began her career in education at The Town School where she was an associate teacher and taught first and fourth grades. After leaving The Town School, she taught second grade at the Nightingale-Bamford School for twelve years. While at Nightingale, she took on several additional responsibilities which include serving as the Co-Chair of the Faculty and Staff Inclusivity Committee, Co-Director of the upper school club, C.A.F.E (Cultural Awareness for Everyone), was a Member of the Board of Trustee Community Life Task Force, Coordinator of Parents of Daughters of Color, and Lower School Diversity Coordinator. Aléwa was appointed as the Lower School Assistant Director at Trevor Day School in 2012, supporting first through fifth grades and responsible for oversight of grades three through five.
Aléwa has presented her work and research at national conferences including NAIS Annual Conference and NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC). Aléwa currently serves on the Board of Trustees of St. Luke’s School in the West Village and the Hudson Ballet Theatre. Aléwa led groups of high school students from across the nation in five-week study abroad programs for The Experiment in International Living to Brazil, Botswana, South Africa, and Tanzania and is currently involved with the Student Diplomacy Corps.
Aléwa earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University, where she double majored in African American Studies and Cultural Anthropology. She also holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education. Aléwa attended the Klingenstein Summer Institute for Early Career Teachers, was a member of the first NYSAIS Emerging Leaders Institute cohort and earned a certificate in Leading Change: A School Management and Leadership course from Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has attended numerous workshops, conferences and institutes related to leadership, including the NAIS Summer Leadership Institute and the Head’s Network Women’s Leadership Seminar. Aléwa's greatest passion is dance. She also enjoys singing and viewing dance performances and Broadway shows.
Erica Corbin, Core Faculty
Erica is a proven community leader with a talent for building inclusive and welcoming independent school environments. A public school kid in a private school world, Erica has worked in K-8, K-12, single-gender, co-ed, and higher ed institutions. She was introduced to independent schools through her first position in Development at the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine. Erica is currently Director of Community Life and Diversity at the Chapin School, a K-12 independent school on New York City’s Upper East Side, after wrapping a seven-year term of multiple roles at Collegiate School, a K-12 independent school on the Upper West Side. Her responsibilities included coordinating community service, event planning and fundraising to increase socioeconomic diversity, advising multiple student groups and academic teams, and organizing equity-related programming for students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff members.
Erica engages in a number of diversity and inclusion efforts beyond her day job. She served a 4-year stint as co-chair of PoCIS (People of Color in Independent Schools), an NYC-based affinity group with a 25+ year history that serves to connect local independent school educators and staff of color. She was invited to join the Diversity Committee of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) in 2012, becoming co-chair in 2013 and chair in 2014 before stepping down from the position in 2017. Established in 1998, the NYSAIS Diversity Committee develops workshops, conferences, materials, and other resources for teachers and administrators who seek assistance in furthering their schools’ diversity initiatives. Erica also served as co-founder of the CARLE Institute for White Educators in Independent Schools, an annual program structured to give white faculty members the necessary historical framework, interpersonal skills, and curriculum development strategies they need to teach a diverse student body. Most recently, Erica became co-director for NYSAIS’ Justice, Equity, and Diversity Institute (JEDI), a year-long program to better equip early career directors of diversity and educators interested in pursuing a similar role in the future.
Will Gilyard, Core Faculty
Will Gilyard is in his 15th year of working in independent schools. He just completed his third year as the Dean of Students at the Kingswood Oxford School (KO), a 6-12 independent day school located in West Hartford, CT. Will is also an Upper School Math Teacher, Faculty advisor for the United Students club and Boys of Color group. He is also an assistant football coach. Once school ends, Will serves as a core faculty member of the Kingswood Oxford Leadership Institute for Educators of Color (KOliec) and has been in that capacity since the institute's inception in 2011. He has helped create the curriculum for the mentoring/advising circles for the institute's participants.
Before joining KO, Will was the Head of the Upper School at the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine in New York City. He serves on the board of advisors for the IDEAL school, also located in New York City. He is passionate about the role of educators in independent schools, specifically in the lives of students of color. Will has attended numerous workshops, conferences, and institutes related to leadership in independent schools and anti-racist education. Will had the honor of being a member of a think tank for the CARLE institute.
Will has his B.A. in Psychology from Williams College and his M.A. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of St. Joseph. Will is thrilled to be a part of the ILI team and looks forward to working with energized and focused individuals who are interested in being change agents in the world. Will resides in Wethersfield, CT with his wife Afton and their two sons, William (6) and Maxwell (4).
Eric Osorio, Founding Faculty
An independent school educator for the past 23 years, Eric Osorio began as an intern in the admission office at the Noble and Greenough School just outside of Boston. In his twelve-year tenure, Eric grew beyond the admissions office, taking on the role of expanding the diversity program at the school. Initially a minor role focused on student programming, Eric's work led to broader diversity efforts, including establishing strategic diversity goals, and in 2006, he was appointed the school's first Dean of Diversity Initiatives, a senior-level administrative position. After four years as Assistant Head of Upper School at Packer Collegiate Institute, Eric returned to the New England region in 2012 to oversee student life at Worcester Academy as the Dean of Students for the 6-12 school community. In 2015, Eric joined the Swift School in Atlanta, Georgia as Associate Head of School. After three wonderful years in Atlanta, Eric returned home to his beloved New York City. He currently serves as Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning at The Calhoun School.
Eric has presented his work and research at both regional and national conferences including NAIS Annual Conference and NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC). In 2007, he was honored to serve as one of the co-chairs of NAIS PoCC Local Planning Committee. He was also a member of the PoCC Local Planning Committee when the conference was held in Atlanta in 2016. Eric currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Bronx Charter School for the Arts, serving as chair for the Trustee Program Committee.
Eric earned a B.A. from Tufts University, where he was a double major in Sociology and International Relations. He also holds an M.A. in Private School Leadership from Teachers College and was honored to receive a Joseph Klingenstein Fellowship. His research project was focused on diversity efforts in corporate America and the implications and lessons for independent schools. Eric is also a proud alumnus of Prep for Prep, an experience that continues to inform the work he does in independent schools. Eric is truly excited to be home in New York with his wife Roberta, seven-year-old twins Jasmine and Jordan, and his eight-month old son Eric, Jr.
Adrienne Barr, Executive Director
New York Interschool Association/Faculty Diversity Search
Adrienne Barr joined Interschool after spending several years in leadership roles with the Parents’ Association at Trinity School in Manhattan. A former television news producer, Ms. Barr became active in educational and parenting issues while sending her own two children to Trinity. She also worked closely with students and their families while running ArtScenes, a theater and art summer camp she founded in 2008. As President of the Trinity PA, Adrienne was deeply involved with organizing and developing Parent Affinity Groups, and helping to foster more involvement and leadership roles for families of various racial, religious, ethnic and other identity backgrounds. She also helped create more programming and several film and lecture series to support these groups, and has been an active fund raiser and volunteer coordinator for the school’s many events.
Adrienne has a BA in Communications from Rutgers College, and a Creative Writing Certificate from the NYU School of Continuing Education, and is an award winning screenwriter and producer.
Brandie Clarke, Assistant Director
New York Interschool Association/Faculty Diversity Search
Brandie has been the Assistant Director of Interschool for over 20 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is responsible for the administrative operations for Interschool and FDS and the recruitment and placement of associate teachers and head teachers in FDS member schools.
Prior to coming to the independent school community she worked for the NYC Department of Education’s Office of External Programs for 6 years where she worked with a team of twelve, developing several projects for the board such as Principal for a Day, Take Your Daughter to Work Day, and The NYC Mentoring Program.